The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted authorization for an alliance between Etihad Airways and the Virgin Blue Group of Airlines for five years.
According to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, the authorization allows the airlines to cooperate on joint pricing and scheduling of services across their respective networks. This means that Etihad Airways and the Virgin Blue Group will offer their customers a combined global network of more than 100 destinations.
“Today’s announcement by the ACCC to grant authorization of Etihad’s alliance with the Virgin Blue Group for a period of five years is fantastic news for both airlines and for our customers, and is a positive step towards growing our already strong position in the Australian market,” says James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer.
“The alliance will contribute to growing Etihad’s share of the Australian corporate and leisure markets and increase our appeal as the airline of choice for travellers to Australia and the South Pacific from the Middle East, Europe and UK,” says Hogan.
Etihad’s new alliance with the Virgin Blue Group alliance means that from February 24, Virgin Blue’s international arm, V Australia, will commence direct services to Abu Dhabi, moving towards a combined total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia .
These services include double-daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily service between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, and six round-trips per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane.
Etihad Airways says the partnership will open 45 new destinations in Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific islands and the west coast of the U.S. Etihad’s customers now will be able to fly from Abu Dhabi to Australia and connect seamlessly to Virgin Blue destinations in the Australia-Pacific region.
Customers of either company’s frequent-flyer program also will be able to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles for any Etihad or Virgin Blue flight, along with reciprocal service benefits and lounge access for top-tier members of both programs.